Location: Otley Bridge, Otley, West Yorkshire
Event: 15 September 2012
Report: Scott Hobro
In an Olympic year which saw Otley’s own Lizzie Armitstead win silver in the women’s road race in London, it seems is only suitable that the Otley Sportive – now in its second year - incorporates the values of the Games and organiser Luke Minshall was clear when outlining the philosophy of the event.
“The whole event is around getting everyone together and on a bike and joining other people. One thing we wanted to do was to open it up to as many people as possible,” Minshall said.
“What we looked at is the short ride being for people who are just starting in cycling – families and kids who can comfortably do the 14 miles. There are a couple of hills in that so it’s an easy ride, back roads which are quiet. The medium and long rides head up on the same route, fairly hilly and a bit of a challenge really, quite of lot of ascents and descents. That’s going to be exciting.”
If the second year’s ride is inspired by an Olympic legacy, the inaugural ride was born out of the build-up. Initially part of the NHS’ drive to encourage staff to try different sports, it soon became apparent there was a wider interest and potential for a much more universal event which promote cycling in the area.
After contact with British Cycling Regional Event Officer for Yorkshire, Pete Sutton, Minshall worked with British Cycling for support and to help promote the event.
“Last year was the first year and it was done as part of the NHS preparation for the Olympics, getting staff into trying different sports,” Minshall explained.
“A group of us cycle as part of the cycle to work scheme. From last year the feedback was that we wanted to invite friends and family so we looked at the possibility of doing that and worked with Peter Sutton and he mentioned doing it through the British Cycling website.”
The ride itself offers three routes – all setting off from the event HQ of Bridge Church – a 14 mile option, 36 miles or 66 miles. The idea is to cater to as many as possible, whether it is families on their first ride or the more seasoned rider.
“It’s about bringing people together, saying we can cycle together. Have a chat, cake and coffee at the end to relax with, just get that cycling community going, to get people included in cycling. Last year we had people on ‘granny’ bikes and BMX’s completing the short ride!” Minshall said.
Once away from HQ, riders on the medium and long routes will navigate their way into the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with the short route heading across the country lanes to Ilkley. Once up the valley, riders can take in the views before enjoying the descent back into the Otley.
“Last year we one had route and instead of doing the same route each year we have changed it slightly, it gives people that variation but still heading into the Yorkshire Dales. Last year about 38 people signed up but that was on a social and work basis, this year we’re just hitting over a hundred now.
“It goes over the tops of the valley so you’ll be able to see across that area.”
Refreshments will be available before and after the race with two support vehicles on hand in case of any issues along with clear signposting for all routes.
“We’re asking riders to be as self-sufficient as possible. There will be first aiders as part of the support crew, two support vehicles which will follow riders around in case there are any issues, all the roads will be signposted. The route is available for people to download onto GPS and then there’ll be refreshments at both the beginning and end.”
With entry at just £10 and in the community spirit of the event the sportive will be donating a portion of all entry fees to the Martin House Children’s Hospice and the Bridge Church Scout Group.